Bob Russell, co-creator of the popular gameshow “Name That Tune” and one of the creators of the Miss America TV extravaganza, died Jan. 24 at a hospital near his home in Sarasota, Fla. He was 90.
In the 1940s and ’50s, Russell was a major presence in TV. He hosted, starred or created several programs, including “Yours for a Song,” “Stand Up and Be Counted,” “Bonnie Maid’s Versatile Varities” “Live Like a Millionaire” and “Your Pet Parade.”
He helped create “Name That Tune,” serving as host for a few pilot broadcasts.
Russell was host of Miss America from 1940 through the first televised pageant in 1954, when it was watched by 27 million people. He recommended his friend Bert Parks to take over as host the next year.
In 1952 he co-created, directed and hosted the very first Miss Universe Pageant in Long Beach and continued with the pageant through 1957.
Russell originally rejected the tune “There She Is, Miss America” as the show’s theme, in favor of two of his own songs. The song later became the musical signature for Parks and the pageant.
A native of Passaic, N.J., Russell moved to New York at age nine, and started his career in the 1920s in Broadway choruses. In the 1930s, he moved on to Philadelphia, where he became a local star as the singing master of ceremonies at the elegant Cafe Marguery in the old Adelphia Hotel.
Russell is survived by his wife, Mignon Simpson Russell, a daughter, Ingrid, a grandson and two sisters.